Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy 100th birthday to Grand Central!

New York's Grand Central Terminal was inaugurated 100 years ago on February 2nd, 1913.  A series of centenary celebrations are planned for the duration of the year, including a rededication ceremony tomorrow.

Grand Central Terminal in the 1920's

I was frankly amazed to learn some of the facts and figures about this building.  According to Wikipedia:

  • It's the largest railway station in the world in terms of number of platforms (44 of them);
  • It's the world's sixth-most-visited tourist attraction, with over 21 million visitors annually;
  • The four faces of the clock on top of the information booth are made of opal, and are estimated to be worth between $10 million and $20 million;
  • There were two previous, smaller buildings on this site to serve railway passengers.  The present Terminal is the third of its kind.

The Telegraph has published '100 fascinating facts' about the Terminal to celebrate its centenary.  Among them are:

  • An eagle with a 13-foot wingspan that once graced the former Grand Central Depot is now perched on Grand Central Terminal. The eagle was discovered after new owners moved into a house in Bronxville in 1995. The couple contacted the Metro-North Railroad and asked if it might be used for the restoration.
  • In terms of total area, Grand Central is thought to be one of the most successful shopping centres in the USA.
  • Some language historians believe the phrase “red carpet treatment” evolved at the Grand Central Terminal. Its use is thought to have entered popular vernacular through the luxurious 20th Century Limited express passenger train from New York to Chicago. Passengers used to walk down a crimson carpet, a ritual only done for those departing from New York.
  • Each day, an estimated 10,000 people come into Grand Central to have lunch, and don’t a catch a train at all.
  • All light bulbs in the original terminal were naked and prominently on display. This was a way of drawing attention to the fact the terminal was all electric, quite a noteworthy achievement in 1913.
  • In 2008, it took six people to switch all the naked incandescent bulbs to the fluorescent bulbs that are currently in use at the terminal.

There are many more at the link.  Interesting and entertaining reading.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One small quibble: Per the current Wikipedia article -

"...Each of the four clock faces is made from opalescent glass; the story that the faces are made of opal and that both Sotheby's and Christie's have estimated the value to be between $10 million and $20 million should be considered an urban legend..."